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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Nettles’

Benjamin Keach on Justification

by Tom Nettles

Editor’s Introduction

Benjamin Keach (1640–1704) became a Baptist at age 15, preached as a General Baptist, and suffered persecution, imprisonment, and the pillory for his convictions as a Baptist. After serving as an elder in a General Baptist congregation from 1668-1672, he became a Particular Baptist minister and founded the church at Horse-lie-Down in Southwark in London. He spent the remainder of his years as a zealous preacher of the gospel, an effective polemicist, a theoretician on principles of biblical interpretation, a poet, a hymn-writer, and a writer of allegory. His clear and bold defense of the doctrines of grace was informed by his previous years as an Arminian. He lived with sincere conviction that the doctrine of justification by faith was indeed the doctrine on which the church stands or falls. His sermons and expositional writings were filled with explanations of the centrality of this doctrine to a proper understanding of the grace of God.

In an exposition of Luke 7:42, “And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both,” Keach had an applicatory section explain how grace reigns through righteousness. Grace is not elevated in an unjust way………..

Read the entire article at Founders Ministries.

How the Bible Relates to Man-Made Creeds

by Tom Nettles

The pivotal question of how one concedes authoritative force to a creedal, or confessional, proposition holds paramount importance in their use in pedagogical and disciplinary ways. If churches, associations, or denominations as a whole are to use their creeds as instruments of ordination, church instruction, and discipline, then some method of demonstrating the biblical character of their propositions must be clearly conceived. Phillip Schaff rightly reminds Christians, that “the Bible has, therefore, a divine and absolute, the Confession only an ecclesiastical and relative, authority.” Additionally, he warns that “any higher view of the authority of symbols is unprotestant and essentially Romanizing.” Having issued that caveat, he proposed, “Confessions, in due subordination to the Bible, are of great value……

Read the entire article at Founders Ministries.

Reaffirming Sola Scriptura

by Tom Nettles

As Philip Schaff indicated, confessions and creeds hold no absolute authority for Protestants. Their authority is only an ad hoc, ecclesial, and localized standard for the sake of unity in fellowship and consistency of witness either in a denomination or a local assembly of believers. They can be amended or expanded in light of evidence from more mature biblical exegesis or in light of doctrinal and cultural challenges to biblical truth. For this reason, confessions arising from within Protestantism usually contain an article that affirms the sole authority, inspiration and infallible authority of Scripture. For example, the Second London Confession of the Baptists stated in its first sentence, “The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, Faith, and Obedience.” In paragraph 6 of the same article on Scripture, reflecting the words and concepts of both the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Savoy Declaration with one slight variation [italicized], the confession added: “The whole Councel of God concerning all things necessary…..

Read the entire article at Founders Ministries.

Of the Civil Magistrate

by Tom Nettles

Chapter 24: Second London Confession

Baptist Protestantism

Embracing a full and enthusiastic consent to the leading doctrines of the Reformation, particularly in its English Puritan form, Baptists made their most formative contribution in ecclesiology and their consequent understanding of the relation of the church to the state. The preface explained the desire of the compilers of this confession to express their doctrines , as much as possible, in the same words as those of the Westminster Divines and the Savoy Declaration. They agreed in the ”fundamental articles of the Christian religion” with both but also “with many others whose orthodox confessions have been published to the World, on behalf of the protestants in diverse nations and cities.”

They diverged clearly on the New Testament practice and doctrine of baptism, affirming that both in command and in example it was to be given to believers only. This meant that using infant baptism as a glue for national religion was impossible, and so the emerging Baptists of the 17th century formed their churches, not on the state-church parish system, but from believers only. As a result, they would argue for massive changes in the entire concept of society and politics in all of so-called Christendom. Since the church should be formed only of those who were convinced of the gospel’s truth, there could be no forced professions of Christianity or inherited religious persuasion. Liberty of conscience was demanded for political entities if the government was to function in its lawful sphere and if the church was to be formed by New Testament principles. Separation of church and state, the freedom of the individual conscience in matters of worship,……

Continue reading on Founders.org 

The Content of the Noble New Hampshire Confession (Part 2)

by Tom Nettles

In the last entry, we saw how the New Hampshire Confession describes God’s operations of grace in the present so that our corruptions are overcome in his granting us salvation. This entry begins with the Confession’s statement on the location of these present operations in the divine purpose established in eternity.

The article entitled “Of God’s purpose of Grace” continues the robust affirmation of divine prerogative and power while also insisting on the immediate responsibility of man, or free agency, of man. The confession states, “We believe that election is the eternal purpose of God,” [not just his perfect foreknowledge of all things that will happen], “according to which he graciously regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners [God’s eternal purpose governs all the necessary operations by which he saves those he has elected], “that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends all the means in connection with the end”……

Read the entire article here.

The Content of the Noble New Hampshire Confession (Part 1)

by Tom Nettles

In our last entry, we examined the complex context in which the New Hampshire Confession of Faith was written—the anti-mission-society movement, the Free Will Baptist movement, and the phenomenon of Charles Finney’s impact on Baptist ideas. In this entry we begin an examination of its content.

These challenges prompted the New Hampshire Baptist Convention to appoint a committee in 1830 to present a confession of faith that would summarize the views of the churches of the Convention. After several revisions both by individuals and other committees, it was finally presented in 1833 by the Board of the Convention and recommended to the churches for Adoption. In 1853, J. Newton Brown added two articles, “Repentance and Faith” and Sanctification,” and published the confession in a book he put together entitled The Baptist Church Manual.

 

Read the entire article here.

The Noble New Hampshire Confession

by Tom Nettles

Every confession of faith has its own historic context and yields a more accurate understanding when its words are seen in light of that context. This rather obvious truism, however, is particularly relevant to understanding the New Hampshire Confession of Faith. Given the normative status of the Second London Confession for Baptists from New England to the deep South, several rather intense doctrinal challenges to early 19thcentury Baptists made a confessional response necessary for Calvinistic missionary Baptists.

 

Read the entire article here.

Fuller and the Atonement (Part 4): Limited Atonement and Free Offer

Tom Nettles

Editorial note: This is the seventh post in a series on Andrew Fuller’s theology. Here is the series so far: Fuller the Non-Calvinist? (Part 1), Fullerite: Doctrine of Inability (Part 2), Fuller and Irresistible Grace (Part 3), Fuller and the Atonement – 1/4 (Part 4), Fuller and the Atonement – 2/4 (Part 5), Fuller and the Atonement – 3/4 (Part 6), and Fuller and the Atonement 4/4 (Part 7).

Fuller’s rejection of the commercial understanding of moral justice was two-fold (at least). One, such a limitation, that is, forgiveness dependent on the enumeration of sins and their commensurate guilt, was impossible by the very nature of Christ’s infinite excellence. Christ’ infinite fullness of worthiness necessarily offered to the Father a complete satisfaction, rendering salvation, especially forgiveness as an intrinsic necessity of salvation, a matter of divine sovereignty, eternally determined, in its application. So, the reason for Christ’s incarnation and his fulfillment of the office of priest as a ransom, reconciliation, propitiation,…..

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Fuller and the Atonement (Part 3): Until You Have Paid the Last Penney

Tom Nettles

Editorial note: This is the sixth post in a series on Andrew Fuller’s theology. Here is the series so far: Fuller the Non-Calvinist? (Part 1), Fullerite: Doctrine of Inability (Part 2), Fuller and Irresistible Grace (Part 3), Fuller and the Atonement – 1/4 (Part 4), Fuller and the Atonement – 2/4 (Part 5), Fuller and the Atonement – 3/4 (Part 6), and Fuller and the Atonement 4/4 (Part 7).

Though Andrew Fuller asserted that Calvinists in general held the covenantal application view of particular redemption, historically that which he called the “commercial” view has co-existed with it. That view, defended among the Baptists by John Spilsbury [1] (as far as we can discern the first Particular Baptist pastor), Abraham Booth [2], and John L. Dagg [3], contends that the suffering of Christ is a matter of actual measurable justice. The propitiatory wrath set forth by the Father must be commensurate with the degree of susceptibility to punishment for all those that the Father gave to the Son. For them in particular Jesus sanctified himself….

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Fuller and the Atonement (Part 2): A Way Out or a Way In?

Tom Nettles

Editorial note: This is the fifth post in a series on Andrew Fuller’s theology. Here is the series so far: Fuller the Non-Calvinist? (Part 1), Fullerite: Doctrine of Inability (Part 2), Fuller and Irresistible Grace (Part 3), Fuller and the Atonement – 1/4 (Part 4), Fuller and the Atonement – 2/4 (Part 5), Fuller and the Atonement – 3/4 (Part 6), and Fuller and the Atonement 4/4 (Part 7).

In the second edition of GWAA, Fuller chose not to defend the “principle of pecuniary satisfaction” as consistent with general invitations to reconciliation. He concentrated on the position taken by the synod of Dort, and that of ”all the old Calvinists” [2:710]. He had begun this refinement process in Reply to Philanthropos and in The Reality and Efficacy of Divine Grace.

The core of the argument is that the intrinsic value of Christ’s suffering, given the infinite dignity of his person, is sufficient for the forgiveness…..

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.